Yesterday I stumbled into conflicting information between two sources.
I read an article: ”Insects are conscious and egocentric, study finds. (And you keep squishing them)”.
Same day I was watching an episode of BBC Life documentary ”Creatures of the Deep”. (BBC´s nature documentaries are the best. Simply breathtaking.)
According to the news article I read:
“…The researchers now want to investigate further to try and figure out how consciousness arose evolutionarily in all creatures. Right now, evidence suggests that organisms became conscious when they started to prioritise needs and gained the ability to move freely about the world.
The best way to think about this is to consider jellyfish – creatures that don’t appear to possess consciousness. Jellyfish do not move freely around the oceans – instead, they ride the waves in hopes that they don’t land on a beach. If they gained mobility, they would eventually need to make choices as to which direction they should go to fulfill their needs, and from this, consciousness might evolve.”
BBC Life´s 8th episode of season 1 Creatures of the deep had this to say about jellyfish:
“…the masters of this nomadic existence are jellyfish. A life spend drifting in the empty ocean could be a lonely one but not for this jellyfish. Aurelia. [ movie shows hundred thousand jellyfish] Swarms like this are not accidental. These individuals all hatched together when the temperature and current were just right. Their timing has ensured that they can make the most of feeding on a late-summer plankton bloom.
Jellyfish have no brain and no blood but they do have eyespots that enable them to tell the difference between light and dark. And they can move independently of the current by a simple form of jet propulsion. “
With this in mind a brainless freely moving jellyfish could be a conscious being.
My MacBook Dictionary definition for Consciousness:
1 [ mass noun ] the state of being aware of and responsive to one’s surroundings: she failed to regain consciousness and died two days later.
2 a person’s awareness or perception of something: her acute consciousness of Luke’s presence.• the fact of awareness by the mind of itself and the world. consciousness emerges from the operations of the brain.“
So where to draw the line between a conscious and non-conscious being? I don´t really know and sitting in front of computer for 2 hours won’t resolve that mystery. 2 hours/ days / weeks / years / decades of meditation or research just might… I like simplifying things and that usually means using the unscientific approach; imagination and personal experiences.
Perhaps the planet itself is a living thing with consciousness. At the same time consciousness is something as simple as a jellyfish that can tell the difference between light and dark.
We humans might differ from other living beings by being able to go beyond consciousness. In yogic and buddhist tradition it is often called super consciousness or (samma) samadhi. But writing about that would take bit longer. So I will leave it for another time.
For now this computer dictionary should consider at least updating the phrase: ”consciousness emerges from the operations of the brain.” into “Consciousness can lie outside the brain“
Be water my friend.
Move freely & find your way through the current.
Be conscious like a jellyfish that separates light from darkness.